University of Maryland police warn students to prepare for active shooter situations

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WASHINGTON — The idea of an active shooter nearby is terrifying, but University of Maryland police are asking students and staff to prepare for the worst as it’s become a reality on campuses across the country.

A letter that went out to students and staff from the University of Maryland Police Chief David Mitchell asks them to ponder being confronted by a shooter on campus. He wants to planfor a crisis rather than be blindsided by it, citing recent school shootings across the country.

“Certainly Oregon and Texas are the most recent examples. We’re well aware of that on this campus,” Mitchell tells WTOP. In less than a week there were fatal shootings at campuses in both those states, as well as Arizona.

His recent memo asks students and staff to sign up for mobile emergency alerts, take note of their surroundings, and think what they’d do if a shooter was reported at any time during their daily routine.

“There certainly has been an uptick in anxiety with our student body which, is another reason we sent out the words of guidance,” he says.

Mitchell explains the “Run, Hide, Fight” response model developed by the City of Houston, which Mitchell is suggesting students and staff implement on campus in an emergency situation.

“If it does happen, we want you first to run. If you can’t do that and you’re in a location where you can hide, OK. Lock the door, fortify the door, roll down the blinds and hide. Be quiet and call 911 or text us,” he says.

He says fight is the last option, and it is a personal one.

“If all else fails and someone tries to get into the location where you are hiding, you really have a personal decision to make here. That is, if you’re with other people, can you reasonably fight off an active shooter? That’s been done before,” he says.

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